Entrance to London Congestion Charge zone
Congestion or emission charge?
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Entrance to London Congestion Charge zone
Congestion or emission charge?

New London Congestion Charge penalises cars on emissions

The London Congestion Charge.

I realise this is an issue for small businesses in the capital.

But other main cities – such as Birmingham – are also planning congestion charging. And I’m sure they’ll be looking at what London has done. And plans to do from October this year.

That’s when the simple congestion scheme becomes an emissions/clean air initiative.

Now let me make two points clear.

A congestion scheme to keep the traffic moving in the capital city was essential. I know it’s hurt some businesses. But the future prospect without it – of gridlock – would not have assisted business either.

Clean air. The EU is very keen on improving the air quality of cities, which is something to be applauded. After all, who doesn’t want less pollution in the air? And London already has a Low Emission Zone (LEZ).

But I do have a problem when the two issues are confused. And that’s exactly what business drivers are facing in London. A system that is unnecessary, overcomplicated, and muddle-headed. A car that’s polluting and a car that’s not polluting take up the same amount of space on the road.

I’d also venture this: although low-emission hybrids, like the Honda Civic Hybrid, will enter for free, many of the cars that will be let into the Congestion Charge zone at a 100% discount will be diesels.

It’s also interesting to note that the government extends a 3% surcharge on diesel cars for company car tax purposes. Why? To take into account local pollutants – such as sooty particulates. And those are not good for your health.

So much for cleaning up the air, then.

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